Ask A Marketer – Marketer Responses: Jon Lax

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One Degree’s Jon Lax takes a stab at the submitted Ask A Marketer question, by providing some helpful tips. His response is below:

First off you need to break your problem down a little. Trying to answer all these questions at once is a little difficult. Think about attacking this as inter-related but separate challenges.

  1. How do we allow customers to view our products online?
  2. How do we accept orders and deliver our products? # How do we get consumers to return the next time?
  3. How do we attract customers to our site?
  4. How do we measure our activities?

E-commerce is largely an operational challenge and so finding a platform that meets your needs is important. Companies spend millions creating e-comm systems that tie into their logistics and supply chain/warehousing systems to seamlessly handle inventory. It is easy to get distracted and try to be too ambitious. There are many prebuilt e-commerce systems that provide many of the features of custom systems. One that looks really good to me is Yahoo! Small Business. They have a full e-comm system that allows you to build a store using either pre-built templates or allow you to design your own. And at a fraction of the price of implementing your own.

We used to think of these “e-commerce in a box” solutions as being pretty terrible. The templates were ugly and couldn’t be changed but times have changed. I was surprised to learn that the Simple Human Web store was built on the Yahoo! platform. It is a really great looking and working e-comm site. I don’t have personal experience with it but from what I’ve seen I am really impressed. What’s nice about going with a system like Yahoo!, is that they have a back end admin system and work flow that is already designed to help you upload product and track inventory. Whether their system works with your internal processes is something you need to evaluate.

In terms of getting consumers to return, I would ask you how realistic is that given what you sell? How often are people in the market for furniture? I think you raise an interesting question in terms of what is the customer experience after someone has purchased online. I like the idea of assigning them a salesperson who personally emails them and finds out if there is something else they need. Maybe invites them to come by the store. Now your customer is recognized for doing business with you and has an actual person to ask for on the floor.

For analytics you can do some amazing things with Google Analytics. What’s nice about Google Analytics is that it integrates with Google AdWords so you can create AdWord campaigns and see how they deliver to sales or goals. Yahoo offers similar capabilities by integrating their ad serving and e-commerce systems with unified analytics. I would be wary of larger analytics packages like Web Side Story. While very powerful they require significant effort to get good reports out. I believe using tools available online, you can put together several pieces to assemble an e-comm platform and strategy that would outclass many implementations costing thousands of dollars more. Also by breaking your e-commerce challenges down they will seem less daunting and you can go and find solutions for each piece of the puzzle.

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